CANBERRA - NATO on Thursday joined international calls for Libya to release delegates from the International Criminal Court (ICC) detained in Zintan on allegations they had smuggled documents to the son of toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The ICC delegation, led by Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor and Lebanese-born translator Helene Assaf, were detained last week along with two male colleagues while visiting Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in Zintan, southwest of Tripoli.

NATO forces mounted an air campaign in Libya last year in what the Alliance said was a drive to protect civilians during the violent revolt that overthrew and killed Gaddafi.

In Canberra, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he hoped the ICC delegates would be released as soon as possible.

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